The Sacred Hour – Rêverie; Bells Across the Meadows; In a Fairy Realm – Suite; Algerian Scene; Fairy Butterfly; King Cupid; In the Mystic Land of Egypt; Wedgewood Blue; Sanctuary of the Heart; In a Persian Market; A dream of Christmas; In a Monastery Garden.
When I reviewed Naxos's first volume of original Ketèlbey recordings
last year I observed, "Here is some of the first original film music, written
for accompanying action on the silent screen. It is unashamedly unrestrained
and sentimental and melodramatic. Albert Ketèlbey acknowledged a growing
need for mood music to accompany the flickering images and he responded by writing
accessible atmospheric and dramatic music that was within the grasp of the average
cinema pianists yet thrilled our grandparents." Here is another sampling
of the sort of OTT music that would have been heard in theatres before the advent
of the talkies, pieces like: In a Persian Market, In the Mystic
Land of Egypt and In a Monastery Garden.
This second collection of historic recordings has all the excesses we associate
with the period: the purple OTT bravura and portmanteau indulgences, the sentimental
slurs - take the sweet, quasi-religious Sanctuary of the Heart, for instance,
sung here by Nellie Wallace wringing out all its emotional intensity. Yet, there
is an impressive role call of famous artists of the day in this collection.
The great Australian bass/baritone, Peter Dawson sings The Sacred Hour,
another méditation religieuse; Denis Noble sings In the Mystic
Land of Egypt, and the popular violinist Albert Sandler with Ketèlbey
himself plays another colourful evocation, Algerian Scene. Bass Robert
Easton, is featured in Ketèlbey's little-known fantasy on popular Christmas
music, A Dream of Christmas. The composer's concert orchestra conducted
by Ketèlbey play the sentimental Bells Across the Meadows and
another more obscure composition, the coy In a Fairy Realm written in
three treacly movements 'The Moonlit Glade', a fluttery, twee waltz, 'The Queen-Fairy
Dances' and 'The Gnomes' March'. Two more fluffy items are sung by twittering
soprano Florence Smithson in old-world affectedness accompanied by Ketèlbey
and his orchestra: Fairy Butterfly and the precious King Cupid.
Ketèlbey moves to the piano as well as directing the orchestra playing
his charming Wedgwood Blue
Another portion of nostalgic period charm for those with a very sweet tooth.
Not quite as appetising as Volume 1 but still perfectly attuned to the world
of the silents.